How to Make a Spicy Multipurpose Cleaner

How to Make Spicy Multipurpose Cleaner

This fragrant, spicy versatile cleaning vinegar smells fantastic and cleans powerfully.I’ve been using a lot of lemons and other citrus fruits in my cooking recently. Often I use the zest in cooking too, but sometimes it’s just the juice that I need, leaving a small pile of juicy lemon skins. I use these to make a fantastic citrus cleaner, which cleans and freshens the home without using toxic chemicals. This recipe is also single use plastic free and helps to reduce waste by giving odds and ends a new lease of life.

This week, I found some rather shrivelled ginger root in the fridge and some spices which have been on the shelf for a long, long time and decided to add these to my usual citrus based potion.


In the garden, overwintered parsley is going bonkers and the rosemary needed some pruning, so I added some of these to the mix.

The lemons have powerful cleaning properties, antibacterial and antiseptic, acting as a mild natural bleach and the oils in the skins help to create a shine. The parsley, rosemary, cloves and cardamon add their own useful properties: antibacterial, anti fungal, antiseptic. I’m not sure about the ginger, but it will certainly add a fantastic smell. With the vinegar, it helps to reduce limescale and is great for cleaning the loo.

Other herbs that I could have added which are growing now include thyme, sage and mint.

How to make the vinegar

You will need:
citrus peels – lemon, grapefruit, orange, lime
ginger root (shrivelled is optional!)
your choice of herbs – rosemary, parsley, mint, lemon balm, thyme, sage, lemon verbena (mine is just coming back from hibernation now)
light coloured vinegar – cider, white malt, white wine
a large glass jar with a lid
something which fits inside the jar to hold the ingredients under the vinegar

Chop the lemon, parsley and ginger. Crush the cardamon pods with the flat of the knife (carefully!) and break up the rosemary into 6-7 cm pieces.

Layer into a large glass jar, as fancifully as you choose. It looks rather lovely.

Next, pour vinegar into the jar until it is almost full to the brim: leave about 1 cm.

Find something which does not react to vinegar to hold the peels and herbs under the vinegar. This helps to stop them getting mouldy. I used an old fashioned glass milk saver. Alternatives would be a glass lid, a large stone or a fermenting weight (these are usually glass discs). Those small glass dishes that come with individual desserts are often ideal for this too.

Place it on the surface of the peels and herbs, wiping up any spills if you have over filled your jar (like I did!)

Replace the lid of the jar. This is a preserving jar so I have fancy glass lids and clamps – a plastic one would be fine too.

Leave the vinegar in a cool place out of direct sunlight for two weeks. Then, strain it through a sieve and again through muslin or coffee filter paper. This gets any tiny bits out which might block a spray nozzle. (If you are only going to use this on a sponge or to clean the loo, you can miss this part).

Compost the ingredients and store the vinegar in a labelled jar. Use neat to clean taps and other metal surfaces prone to limescale, as a loo cleaner or as a dishwasher rinse aid, or washing machine ‘fabric softener’.

For a multipurpose spray, half fill an empty spray bottle with the vinegar and top up with water.

I’m going to use it to clean the downstairs windows to let the sunshine in!

There are many more recipes for natural cleaning potions and a lot of other uses for citrus skins in our award winning book.

Signed copies are available via Charles’ website here:

No Dig Organic Home & Garden


11 thoughts on “How to Make a Spicy Multipurpose Cleaner”

  1. Oh brilliant , sounds lovely , I will make some tomorrow …..and iv got the shrivelled ginger in the fridge😃. Happy cleaning and thank you xx

  2. What a lovely idea. I have always felt that citrus skins are wasted. Now I can use them and my house will become much cleaner! Thank you. PS.In what kind of shops can one buy food grade white distilled malt vinegar please so as not to pay expensive internet delivery charges?

    1. Its widely available – for sale in all of the supermarkets, for example, usually in 500ml and 1 litre bottles. I have heard that international supermarkets are good places to buy 5 litre containers of white vinegar.

  3. I usually buy ‘eco’ cleaning products but much prefer the sound of this. These are ingredients that I have in my kitchen anyway and I live in a hard water area so will definitely try it. Love the look of your preserving jar, btw.

  4. Oh Stephanie, have just had a sneaky smell of my cleaner in the jar and wow , it’s smells really fresh and beautiful , I can’t wait to try it out , I shall be spring cleaning every where 😃. Thank you x

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